Kat: “So what happened when you got in trouble with your parents for what you were doing?”
Desi: “They told me that they were going to take me to the police station to have a talk with somebody.”
Kat: “And did you?”
Desi: “No, they probably forgot all about it. Besides, they never follow through on anything they say. It’s such a joke.”
The parents were contacted in regards to a very dangerous situation their teen was getting into.
Unfortunately, advice that was given was not taken. This teen continues the pattern of behavior that will bring drastic and regrettable results. Sadly, this isn’t the first time these parents had been admonished to get help for their daughter.
Situations like this are not uncommon and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I now understand the frustrations of pastors, counselors, and even teens, when parents do not act upon good sound advice that will keep their teen from life-long negative results.
In one aspect I understand parents because that was a trap I had fallen into years ago. People tried to tell me that I was depressed. People tried to tell me that my teen was getting worse. But I just couldn’t see it until things got worse. Today I am viewing it from the other side.
I have thought hard and long about why parents, including myself at one time, do not seek help for their families.
Here are some of those reasons.
Parents often believe that with given time, and when a teen matures, they will grow out of their problems. I often thought this and realized how untrue this was. They don’t. They just become more consumed by it.
What parents fail to understand is that when you don’t follow through, that gives license for your teen to keep up with that behavior or end up in crisis situations. You in essence are saying to your child that you don’t care what they are doing. And your teen sees a very weak and boneless parent in the process.
Consistency is also another problematic issue. Mom says one thing and Dad says another. Or you have a family with divorced parents who don’t see eye to eye and nobody takes responsibility instead of working as a team.
Maybe you’re the parent who is afraid that if you bring correction to your teen that somehow you will lose your teen’s respect. Unfortunately yes, this can happen but it is never too late to make changes.
Studying our teen’s behavior and moods is something we have been attuned to since their young age. However, they ALSO have learned our behaviors and moods which they play off of without us noticing.
If we are going to make any strides in helping teens who are hurting or in crisis, we must go above and beyond what is called of us. They will not know how much we care or how much their life is worth to us until they see parents do whatever is necessary to come to their aid.
Perception is a very real issue among teens. For example, teens top reasons for wanting to kill themselves is because they thought their parents didn’t care about them. In fact, between 1.6 – 2.8 million teens run away from home. Again, the logic behind this is because they thought their parents didn’t care.
They didn’t see a parent desire to help them, to make the commitment to follow through in getting them counseling, to find places and mentors that would improve their lives, or to even hear their parent say, “I love you.”
Parents may feel like failures because their teen is in crisis, but if they choose to not follow through on what they need to do to save their child’s life, then they have failed their teen. Don’t choose failure! I know that as a parent you’re tired. You are most likely weary of the battle that you have struggled with and have lost hope or gave up because you couldn’t handle it.
It’s understandable to have those feelings. However, it is not beneficial when it comes to rescuing your teen. I’m a great advocate for parent counseling. Even if your child doesn’t see a counselor (yet!), it is very important you seek one if you feel that you don’t know how to cope with the ongoing crises in your home. Your situation will be more beneficial for your teen when you get the help you need.
More importantly, let us recognize that we are not perfect parents. We need God’s guidance, His discernment and wisdom. We can only get that when we yield ourselves over to Him through prayer, reading His Word for direction and seeking Godly counsel. We also need to be more open to correction from those who understand teens and what they go through.
God gifted many in the field of mental, emotional and spiritual health which includes professionals. By heeding their advice, we will save ourselves a lot of heartache if and when our family hits a crisis. We will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, we must trust God in the process and those who He provides to help us.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
Image courtesy of EA at FreeDigitalPhotos.net